Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Breaking Up Christmas

So I've enjoyed a week or so of a break from learning a new tune everyday.  It's been very nice.  So now, to break up my Christmas Break, a very fitting tune.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Killavil Fancy

Today, a reel off of Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn's duo album.  The track is called Ryan's, and it's a set of two reels.  I learned the second of the two, Killavil Fancy or Ryan's No. 1.  I tuned my fiddle up a half-step (sort of) to play along with the recording and keep it that way for my video.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Johnny McGreevy's (By Golly)

According to my sleuthing (mostly on this tune was recorded by Johnny McGreevy, who I guess says, "By Golly!" a lot, hence its other name.  He likely learned it from Jimmy Neary, a Chicago-fiddler who maybe wrote it (?) and brought it back to Ireland.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Folding Down the Sheets

I learned another old time tune from Rayna Gellert's album today!  This is an old one, and everyone's
version is a little different.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seamus Cooley's

Here's a jig in G.  I learned it from Martin Hayes' album Under the Moon.  It also goes by "Cooley's Jig," "Bohola," and "Joe Cooley's Delight" and is often played in D instead of G.  (Just move the whole thing over a string.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fine Times at Our House

So I just finished finals week of the semester, and I'm very happy to have a break so I can learn more tunes!  Today I learned a really cool old-time tune.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dennehy Dancers

Another Liz Carroll to brighten your day.  She recorded this tune with John Doyle on their album In Play which is definitely worth purchasing.

I had a somewhat frustrating day so a Liz Carroll tune was a good way of cheering myself up.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When Joy Kills Sorrow

Today I learned an old tune with a really cool name.  It might be one of the coolest names ever in my opinion.  It's so cool that it is the inspiration for the band Joy Kills Sorrow, which is a very good band.  Also, it's the name of one of Bela Fleck's recordings, and some people think he wrote the tune, but he just Bela Flecktified it beyond recognition as is his way.  I was just informed that Bela Fleck did in fact write this tune!  My bad!  Stupid internet, with all its internal dissonance.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Banks of the Lough Gowna

Today I returned to Ronan Browne and Peter O'Loughlin's recording A South West Wind to learn a tune. That CD is pure gold. This is jig on the album.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jenny Ran Away in the Mud in the Night

I learned this cool old time tune off of Rayna Gellert's album, which I utterly love.  She plays tunes in a majestic, yet stripped down way that I can't get enough of.  You can find notier versions of this tune, but I tried to focus more on the bounce. The tuning for this tune is Open F (FCFC).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Donal A' Phumpa

Today, I have returned to the source of all that is wonderful and good: Mick O'Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh's recordings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Lark's March

Today I searched for a tune to learn by going through some of my favorite trad albums, and decided upon a track from Noel Hill & Tony Linnane which they called "Geese in the Bog."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

West Fork Girls

Here's an old time tune I'm learning in time for a gig I'm doing this afternoon with my friend Joe who asked me to learn it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yvonne Casey's

Here's a reel called Yvonne Casey's written by Yvonne Casey that she plays on her album called Yvonne Casey.  This is a fun little album with some interesting non-trad thrown in.  She pairs this tune with Maude Millar's, which sounds great.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tom Roddy's

Here's a jig that I had to learn so that I could understand it better.  It was written by Oisín Mac Diarmada, who is the fiddler in Téada.  I couldn't make heads or tails of it the first time I heard it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Fourth Floor

Here's a fun pipe tune written by Gordon Duncan. You'll like this one if you're crazy about syncopation and/or trebles. In Scotland, trebles are called birls. In Shetland, they're referred to by their most descriptive name, shivers. This tune has plenty of them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Munster Buttermilk

Today I learned a beautiful jig from Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's first collaboration, Kitty Lie Over.  They call this tune Munster Buttermilk but it doesn't resemble the tune many people know by that name.  It could have a different name.  I hunted around but couldn't find any information.  Either way, it's a lovely tune.  The fiddle is tuned down to Eb, and the tune is played as though it's in D, but it comes out in Bb.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Cliff Dwellers

Time for an Irish reel in G Dorian.  This goes nicely with In Memory of Coleman.  Liz Carroll wrote it, but I learned it from a recording by Yvonne Casey.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ducks on the Millpond

This is a very easy-to-learn Old Time tune that I think I could play and/or listen to for days without getting sick of it. It's beautiful.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Thrush in the Morning

The thrush in the title of this tune is of the bird variety, not of the yeast infection.  This tune was written by Seamus Ennis' dad Jimmy.  It's lovely.

Friday, November 11, 2011

MacArthur Road

E major is a scary key for lots of instruments (especially flute) so there ain't many tunes in this key.  But, here's one!  MacArthur Road is a reel written by Dave Richardson who also wrote Calliope House Jig, also in E, coincidence?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dad's Reel

I love crooked tunes!  This crooked tune is a Quebecois tune, of which 75% is identical to another tune called Reel Des Eboulements.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Bush in Bloom

Another Irish reel for you today.  This one I learned off of John and Alan Kelly's recording, Fourmilehouse.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Humours of Glendart

Daylight savings only works on one end of the day, so my late afternoon videos will likely be dark for the next 6 months.  Today I did a simple little jig that was suggested by one of my reliable sources, Lars M.  I learned it off of a Planxty album.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

John Doherty's

Irish tunes are not often crooked, the style being more closely married to general dance types that require a square meter.  But here's one, perhaps composed in order to trip some dancers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Poplar Bluff

Here's another old time tune by Ed Haley.  The B part goes up on the E string in 3rd position, which is kind of unusual and without the presence of a banjo, bass, and guitar to fill in the sound it's a little squeaky.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kitchen Girl

Today I learned an old Henry Reed tune. Henry Reed was an old-time Virginia fiddler who was recorded by folklorist Alan Jabbour in the sixties.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So I sent out an invite a few posts ago to anyone who'd like to contribute to NTAD and fortune smiled upon us when my multi-talented and wonderful friend Tiffany Draper acquiesced!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seamus Creagh's

Today was kind of perfect.  I wrapped up this last week of working on two different research projects and taking a midterm exam and really needed a weekend.  So today I woke up late, did some laundry, and then traveled up to an abandoned farm and picked apples from a couple of neglected heirloom apple trees.  It was just what I needed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Camel's Hump

Today I was looking through all of the photos Sam (my spouse) and I took during a very long backpacking trip we did a couple years ago so I could assemble them into a book using blurb.  It made me very nostalgic for tromping around the globe with a backpack and a cheap fiddle.  It was a life altering, mind expanding experience.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Road to Cashel

I underestimated the mental energy this project would take when combined with my thesis research and trying to maintain some semblance of an exercise schedule to keep my body from turning into a lump of hagen daas icecream with two, beady computer screen eyes.  Woops!  I did a nice, easy one today to give myself a break.  This is a traditional Irish reel I learned off of an Altan recording.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seàn in the Mist

Today I learned another tune suggested by Lars M., from Colm Murphy's album "The Irish Drum," called Seàn in the Mist.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The North Wind

Here's a simple hornpipe for you.

Confession: I sometimes really don't like hornpipes.  I'm not particularly in love with this one, but I liked the name since I did another wind-titled tune yesterday.  The changing season here in the Rockies manifests itself with really cold winds in the morning, but the afternoons still warm up, so you forget your jacket at work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The South West Wind

I had a long teaching day, Tuesdays are my marathon-fiddle-lesson day. I teach 8 lessons today, spanning the entire afternoon into the evening. I love teaching and I have the best students in the world, but by the end of the day I'm craving cookies and tea in a big way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Buffalo Girls

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving AND Columbus Day!  The day the Post Office gets to close but no one else does!  Well, USPS, your days are numbered anyway, so I hear.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I went to Serbia once.  We stayed mostly in Belgrade, but also went to Novi Sad and Frushka Gora.  We rented a car in Belgrade, a trusty Dacia Logan, Romanian made.  It got something like 75 miles a gallon. We took that car a few hundred miles all over Europe.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Boules et Guirlandes / Mrs. Crehan's

There's snow on the hills behind our house, which is crazy insane.  Last week the daily high temp was reaching 80, and today I can't get warm even wrapped in a fleece sweatshirt.  So! Why not learn a Christmas-y tune!  The first tune, "Boules et Guirlandes" is a Breton 3-2 which is a cool tune form.  The second is a reel my friend Tiffany suggested I learn called "Mrs. Crehan's."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

St. Kilda Wedding

I recorded this video yesterday, but youtube was under construction and/or cyber attack so I couldn't upload it until today.  I think that means I won't do another one today.  I'm trying for at least 4-5 a week, but I have to be realistic.  I'm working on coding about 1000 pages of NEPA documents right now, so the break to learn a tune, although welcome, is hard to justify 7 days a week.  BUT, I figure people say "I go to work everyday," and really that means, "I go to work 4-5 days a week," so I'm still justified in saying I'm learning a tune everyday.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I LOVE Saturdays.  I ran 9 miles this morning.  And THEN, I ate my body-weight in oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Aw yeah.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Paddy Fahy's

Did I mention I'm a full-time grad student?  Today was a heavy day with lots of meetings and papers and yadda yadda.  That's why it's almost 9:30 pm and I'm finally posting this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Corsican Waltz

Sometimes things get a little weird around here. Today I learned a Corsican waltz from a Venezuelan violinist. So. That's odd, right? But I listened to lots of versions of this waltz. And I have to say, Eddy Marcano is a god of the violin and his was the best.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Leather Britches

Old-time/Bluegrass!  Sometimes I wish I could put my life on hold for 6 months and just practice and learn Old-time tunes.  I love these styles of fiddling!  I've done Irish fiddling all my life so I play bluegrass fiddle with an Irish accent.  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Owny's Best

Someone remarked to me the other day that I don't often post Scottish tunes. Woops!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Durang's Hornpipe

I learned this one from friend and fellow fiddling fiend Andy Reiner.  Andy is a Berklee grad and currently plays in Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers and the Earth String Band.  The latter is currently making their way through Southeast Asia on tour.  He also has a project called Tune Swappers, which helps fiddlers from all over learn new tunes.  So today I headed on over to and learned this one.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jig For Jimmy

I learned a tune today penned by Galway fiddler Liz Kane, who I met a few years ago when she and her sister Yvonne were teaching a workshop in Takoma Park, Maryland.  They taught me a jig in C major written by Galway legend Paddy Fahy.  When I heard this tune, it reminded me so much of that jig.  It has similar arpeggios and phrases, not to mention it's in the same key and time signature.  Liz Kane wrote this tune for her grandfather.  I plan on putting it in a set with the Paddy Fahy jig in C.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Le Violon Accordé Comme Une Viole

I was going to sit down and learn a really simple tune today... like a polka or something quick.  But then I stumbled upon this video of Carole Bestvater & Liz Massi with Lucas Thebault playing this rockin' French-Canadian reel and my afternoon was stolen.  It's a cool, crooked Quebecois tune in open-tuning.  It's been recorded by the French-Canadian band Barde (but I can't find the recording anywhere.)  Other than that, I don't know much about it.  It's sure fun to play.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pols Etter Kristen Hof

I did another Norwegian one today.  And I think after 48 hours of listening to Norwegian fiddler John Ole Morken I'm starting to understand the style a little... but it's still SO foreign and strange sounding to my ears.  ESPECIALLY the kind of tune called pols in Norwegian (polska in Swedish).  So I went ahead and learned one today, hoping that my brain would comprehend it better in forcing myself to figure one out.  The one I learned is on the same John Ole Morken CD as the last Norwegian tune I did.  You can order the CD over at amazon.  (Follow this link.)  It's called Pols Etter Kristen Hof, which either means Pols by Kristen Hof, or Pols for Kristen Hof.  Not sure.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vals Etter Ingebrigt Djupdal

Yeah I have no CLUE how to say the name of this tune. Norwegian speakers? I'm sorry. Anyway, I learned this off a new-ish (2008) album I just found by John Ole Morken. It's beautiful mostly solo fiddle playing tunes from around Hessdalen, Haltdalen, and Islands. I think. The name of the album is "Slåtter Fra Hessdalen, Haltdalen Og Ålen" and it's on Amazon. It got nominated for a grammy and it's definitely worth the $9.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stairwell Time

Jeremy Kittel is a fabulous fiddler/violist/composer/etc.  He currently plays viola with the Turtle Island String Quartet.  This is a tune he wrote.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jimmy Doyle's

Yesterday I learned a pretty technical, notey tune.  Today I needed a bit of a mental break so I learned a tune off of Deadly Buzz, an album I've listened to so much since I downloaded it that I practically have the whole thing memorized.  This album is of course Mick O'Brien and Caoimhìn Ò Raghallaigh, whose first album, Kitty Lie Over, I've already obsessively memorized.  This one is a polka from their new album, which you can order here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Humours of Galway / The Golden Eagle

A friend on issued me a challenge this morning to learn this hornpipe. So I did.  It's on a De Danann album in a track called "Humours of Galway," but the name of the tune is actually The Golden Eagle.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sail Away Ladies

Yesterday I did a new tune but didn't have access to the internet.  I drove a couple hours away to play a couple of gigs over the weekend with my sister Liz.  We had a blast!  I learned (or rather, solidified a tune I kind of knew already) Sail Away Ladies.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beare Island

So this reel is the name of an actually place.  Bere Island is located in the Bantry Bay off the coast of County Cork in Ireland.  It's apparently known for its archaeological sites and whale/dolphin watching.  It wasn't named after the bear population, though, but after Queen Beara of Munster.  I highly recommend a visit!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Northern

This is probably a traditional tune but its original name could be something else.  I learned it off a Liz Carroll and John Doyle album, "In Play."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Denis Murphy's Fling

Yesterday I had a gig a couple hours away so I couldn't squeeze in a new tune. But not to worry, I picked out an extra special tune today from my favorite NEW album: Caoimhin O Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's Deady Buzz, which you can order here:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Drunken Gauger

I learned this from a CD of traditional tunes County Clare that arrived in the mail this week, "The South West Wind," by Peter O'Loughlin and Ronan Browne.  The liner notes say, "This is an unusual tune that is associated with Paddy Barron, the dancing master who first travelled around Clare over sixty years ago.  The O'Loughlin household in Kilmaley always extended a welcome to him."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Matt Hayes' Jig / Paddy Fahy's Jig

New jigs new jigs hooray hooray hooray.  Today I learned one from my favorite new duo Folk Ragoût, which is comprised of my friends Leslie Harrison on flute and Fred Pouille on guitar.  They have a very cool sound and do all kinds of surprising things.  Order their album here!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Champaign Jig Goes to Columbia

I've mentioned before that I have waves of favorite fiddlers.  I'm on a Caoimhin O Raghallaigh kick, and thereafter all I listen to is Kevin Burke, and then maybe I'll dwell for a while in Old-Time land with some Bruce Molsky... But Liz Carroll is like the North Star, ever-constant in my library of favorite fiddlers.  She kicks butt not only for being virtuosic on the fiddle, but also for being probably the best tune-smith this side of Ed Reavy.  She rocks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Crooked Road

I just joined an online community of Irish trad musicians called TradConnect.  One member suggested the other day that I learn this tune, so I did.  He actually gave me a link of Ronan Browne and Peter O'Laughlin playing it with the reel "The Morning Thrush," which I think I'll learn pretty soon, too.  It's been nice meeting and socializing with other trad musicians since starting this project.  I started it for my own personal development but it really has been a great way to meet other people from all over the world.  If you're a trad enthusiast, consider joining TradConnect, too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Julia Delaney's

First day of classes was today.  I'm in my final year of a Masters degree NOT in Irish fiddle, alas.  So I finally got to learning and recording a new tune at 9pm.  I have a feeling many of my forthcoming videos will be dark and grainy.  Woops!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Killavil Jig

I got a message today from a fellow who runs a site called TradConnect, which traditional Irish musicians of all levels and locales can join to share music, tips, discuss, and of course organize themselves.  He invited me to join and post these videos there.  So of course I was excited to sign up.  If you're interested in checking it out, follow this link:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Old Bush

Sore sore sore muscles.  I followed the pain and suffering from the half marathon I did today with an ice-bath chaser, which I guess is supposed to help.  Pain!  Suffering!  All of this sarcasm is a facade, though.  I'm extremely proud of myself, which is why, as I play this fiddle tune for you, I'm actually wearing the medal they gave out at the race.  It's the only medal I have ever earned ever.  Ever.  So I'm going to weariteverysingledaydammit!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Wave Sweeper

In between bowls of noodles, (I'm carb loading.  Not because I want to.  Tomorrow I may die in a half-marathon) I learned a crazy composition by the whistle player/piper John McSherry. It's in that new genre that uber trad people probably can't stand... like a pop Celtic, or new Celtic. Neltic. Jazzy Irish. Jirish. Okay I should stop. Anyway, it's full of syncopation, which, if you listen to his recording, is emphasized even more by his back up rhythm section. Super cool. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

La Bétaille

I'm sure this word means something, but I'm not sure what.  The full name of this tune is "La Bétaille dans le 'tit arbre" (the ---- in the little tree.)  What the ---- is I'm not sure.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cornstalk and Shoestring Bow

Sometimes you have to think outside the box.  Playing outside the Irish tradition is outside of my little box. So today I give you the fruit of my outside-the-box efforts.  It may not be pretty, but there you go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Green Fields of Glentown

For my senior recital in college I performed Bach's Chaconne, the final movement in his Partita No. 2.  It was 17 minutes long.  (I can still remember most of it, too, I think.)  The seeming endlessness of the Chaconne appeals to me, so I really like reels that have more than 2 parts and wind around the fiddle like a twisty mountain road.  Tommy Peoples writes great tunes like that, and here's one.  It was suggested to me by a youtuber who also plays the fiddle who knows I love a nice long reel.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Holy Land

I just got back from a weekend in Jackson, WY, going to the Wyoming Scottish Festival and later the Sherpa Fest at Snow Basin.  I met some fine folks at the Scottish Fest and had a blast playing tunes in the MacGregor Clan tent.  Fun!  Today I learned a reel that the Bothy Band used to play a lot.  I love the version on Mick O'Brien and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh's newest album, Deadly Buzz.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jenny's Welcome To Charlie

I'm short on time so I'm just posting this and then packing up for a music festival in Jackson, Wyoming!  Woot!  I'll see you at the Sherpa Fest!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Billy in the Lowground

Here's a reel that I've mostly only heard in bluegrass jam situations but there's a recording of Frankie Gavin playing it all Irish-like.  So here's that version.  I'm sure this American tune is derivative of a really old Scottish tune but I don't know the history.  I could make it up... after all, this is the internet!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Booley House

We spent the whole day in the yard again planting flowers and moving mulch.  It was a good time.  When I finally sat down to learn a tune, I found one of the simplest tunes in my itunes library.  This version of The Booley House comes from the album, "Welcome Here Again," by Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill.  It's a little different than other versions people play of this tune.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Concert Reel

I'm not complaining or anything, but I have a massive headache today.  I just moved across the country from sea level to about 4800 feet.  Being this much closer to the sun has brought out the vampire-hide-in-basement tendencies in me.  All I want to do is crawl into a dark room.  Instead I did yard work and played the fiddle.  See that?  Fighting off my unsocial tendencies?  It's not easy.

Monday, August 15, 2011


So.  I just spent the last 3 days in our car driving 2200 miles!  Yay!  It was actually really cool.  And we have a system down for sleeping in the car at rest-stops along the highway so we weren't totally uncomfortable.  We took turns driving in 3-hour shifts.  Anyway, today we've been getting situated here in our new place and I'm a little exhausted.  So when I recorded the polka I learned today, things got a little silly.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I don't think this lovely little tune is played enough.  I could listen to it all day.  I learned it from Kevin Burke (again... he's my favorite fiddler right now) from a 1978 recording with Michael O'Domhnaill. (check it out here:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Half Past Four

I'm in love with Ed Haley tunes.  They're all awesome.  The one I learned today is a popular one both in old-time sessions and competitions.  Ed was blind from the age of 3 when he contracted measles.  He was raised by his grandmother and uncle after losing both parents, one who was murdered by an angry revenge-seeking mob.  His uncle gave Ed his first fiddle, and he later went on to be a professional touring fiddler going around the whole region.  He married a blind piano teacher named Martha, who played accordion and mandolin with Ed.  He died in 1951.  (

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rakish Paddy

So this one time at fiddle camp...

No really.  One day at fiddle camp a friend sat down with his tenor banjo and recorded a bunch of tunes for me to learn.  This was one of them.  It's a nice real with a lot of opportunities for rolls and things that make it sound fancy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Teahan's Favorite

Today I'm on Day 3 of a family reunion, so I actually got my sister Liz to do my NTAD today with me.  I love Kevin Burke's playing, so smooth and connected.  So the tune we learned was from a video of him and Cal Scott playing a set of 3 slides.  This is the first of them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sally Gardens

A reel today. It's another popular session tune. I learned and recorded this today while all my family members were putting their little ones to bed so if you listen carefully you might be able to hear some babies protesting. I'm at a family reunion and we're all staying in a B&B together. Today we went to the Botanical Gardens where there was a Faery Festival! So in honor of the beautiful flowers and plants I saw today, here's the Sally Gardens.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Monaghan Jig

Today's my grandma's 80th birthday!  So I and my five-hundred relatives have gathered on the Maine coast to celebrate.  Today we went on a ferry that took us to and island where we were each fed fish soup, 2 lobsters each, and a bowl of baked clams and finished off with a huge slab of blueberry cake.  Thus, I didn't get around to doing my NTAD until this evening.  Short on time, I chose a jig that I've heard five billion times and even faked once or twice at sessions.  It's much easier to learn tunes that you're already familiar with.  I have a couple versions, one by Tommy Peoples and one by Dónal Clancy, so those are the main inspirations for mine.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Troy's Wedding

It's thrilling to witness a huge pipeband play a good tune.  The blaring highland pipes and those super cool snare rhythms absolutely move me.  The thrill is worth the 2 days of ringing ears that will inevitably follow.  Today I learned a Scottish pipe tune that was suggested to me by one of the subscribers to my youtube channel.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Old Tipperary

I had a really hard time deciding on a tune today.  I've been given quite a few suggestions and all of them are great!  I'll get to them in the next couple weeks.  I heard this jig and it's such a cool, windy melody that I wanted to learn it right away.  It's from the album Geantraì, which is a compilation of a bunch of trad artists playing live session tunes.  This jig was played by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane on concertinas.  They played the tune in Ab so I was obliged to tune my fiddle up a half step to learn it and play along.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cherokee Shuffle

I'm on an American kick still with new tunes.  Today I learned a standard bluegrass jam tune.  It's on a list I have somewhere of the 50 Fiddle Tunes You Have To Know or something like that.  So voilà!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cabin Creek

Time for an Old-Timey tune again.  This one's called Cabin Creek.  My version is derived mostly from Adam Hurt's, who got his from Ed Haley.  When you hear Ed Haley play it, you can hear how in the game of "telephone" is a lot like learning fiddle tunes.  Mine and Ed's sound only vaguely similar.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Cup of Tea

You know, I have no idea how certain tunes get their names.  Over time they change or adopt second and third names, and the tunes change a lot themselves.  Such is life for the Irish tune. This tune, called "The Cup of Tea" also is known by "The Unfortunate Cup of Tea."  You know there's a story there somewhere.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Drunken Sailor Hornpipe

Not much to say today except that I like this tune.  It's nice swung the way Liz Carroll plays it, or a little straighter too.  It's nice fast and slow.  So all around, a very nice tune.  Plus the key of G minor is so deliciously melancholy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Piney Ridge

Another old-time tune?  Why, yes!  I think it'd be easier to do a new Irish tune everyday since that's the genre I'm most fluent in.  But I started this project to stretch myself, after all.  So as flawed as my approach to Old-time may be, I'm going to push myself and learn lots of those kinds of tunes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cousin Sally Brown

Time for some more Old-Time!  I really enjoy Dirk Powell's playing and so I learned his version of this tune.  I don't know if I'll ever break the habit of feeling the beat in an Irishy ahead-of-the-beat way instead of an Old-Time behind-the-beat way.  But that's fine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mickey Callaghan's

I'm in New York for a couple days and had some time today to sit in my hotel room and do a tune!  Ya-hoo!  We got here expecting a one-room one-bed typical hotel room, but they (accidentally?) gave us a suite with 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and living room.  It's bigger than our apartment.  No complaints!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Reels reels reels. I like reels.  And also, this is a great tune and a quick one to learn thanks to its repeated motifs and the fact that the whole thing is only 16 bars long.  So don't you even THINK about heading over to and reading off the notes.  Or else you will get a frowny face.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wade's Waltz

Confession: I watch Discovery's Swamp People.  It's about alligator fishermen in Louisiana and Florida.  It's everything you want it to be: alligators, drama, danger, that smooth Cajun accent (ça c'est bon!), and lots of gumbo and fried frogs.  But there's one big problem that drives me crazy in every episode.  The opening and closing credits are backed by a fiddler who's playing KENTUCKY old-time style.  Oooh, it makes my blood boil. *

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lost Girl

I had the privilege of going to a fiddle camp this summer where I got to meet some amazing musicians. It was there that I finally got to meet one of my favorite fiddlers, Bruce Molsky.  He is a performer, teacher, and scholar of old-time music, and was dubbed by Darol Anger as "The Rembrandt of Appalachian Fiddle."  He agreed to give me a private lesson or two in between tours.  I learned a couple tunes, and learned a lot about the bowing style in this genre which, as I have mentioned before, is upside-down and inside-out from Irish fiddle bowing.  It was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peacock's Feathers

So this project is still in its fledgling stages and I have only vague ideas of what I should do to sass it up a bit... a theme song?  a better camera?  Definitely I'd like a better microphone than the one built in my computer.  It's obnoxious.  But anyway, if you have some grand ideas, let me know!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big Sciota

So I was raised on Irish music.  Mostly.  Some Klezmer, maybe.  But mostly Irish and other Celtic traditions like Scottish and Cape Breton.  The only bluegrass I heard was the opening and closing seconds of 5-string banjo on NPR's Car Talk.  But living out West, when I told people I played fiddle, they automatically assumed "bluegrass," so I got requests all the time for bluegrass show-tunes.  "Oh, you play fiddle?  Can you play The Devil Went Down to Georgia/Orange Blossom Special/Cripple Creek/etc.?"  And I would say, "Uh sure..." And thusly I began faking bluegrass.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Master Crowley's

Yo!  So I learned a reel today.  Well, actually I learned an old-time tune a little earlier, but then I really felt like doing an Irish tune instead so then I learned this one.  The old-time tune I deserted is called Half-Past Four (another Ed Haley tune) and it's very cool so I think you should learn it too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Biddy From Sligo

Wahoo, I learned a new jig!  I love jigs and usually play them pretty quickly but this one seems to really shine at a slower pace.  It's a 2-part jig, and should be a quick one to pick up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dinny Delaney's

I haven't done a slide yet, so here you go! This slide can also be played as a jig. It has been recorded by lots of folks but a great recording is Kevin Burke's "If the Cap Fits."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tolka Polka

This is a fun tune.  I don't know that many polkas, being more of a jig and reel girl myself.  But there are a few fiddlers that make them sound so beautiful.  I learned this polka off of a youtube video of Kevin Burke.  The tune itself was written by Donàl Lunny.  There are three parts to the tune, and the 2nd and 3rd parts have some jazzy syncopation to them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kitty Lie Over & Miss Longford

So I go through phases where I become obsessed with a new artist and listen non-stop to everything they've recorded.  Youtube has made that even easier because you can find live videos too.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sally Gal

Some people call this tune "Tie Your Dog Sally Gal," but Bruce Molsky said this is because on a very old recording people misheard "This song is titled Sally Gal" for "This song is Tie Your Dog Sally Gal."  It goes by both.

London Lasses

Here's an Irish reel in G major.  Try to learn it by ear from the slow bit in the video.  If you really need to cheat and look at sheet music (frowny face for you) you can find it at  But resist.

Crooked "Whiskey Before Breakfast"

Here's a tune I learned at Mt. Shasta Fiddle Camp from the great Bruce Molsky.  It's a crooked version of the popular old tune "Whiskey Before Breakfast."